Weekly news roundup: Micron and GlobalFoundries hit by US trade sanction shockwave and other top stories

Judy Lin, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0


These are the most-read articles during the week of November 20-24:

Micron and GlobalFoundries hit by US trade sanction shockwave

With Chinese customers expressing a willingness to pay a premium for equipment, the impact of the US export controls has been significant. Recently, over half of the profits of major equipment manufacturers come from Chinese customer contributions. In other words, during economic downturns, Chinese customers have emerged as the saviors of equipment manufacturers. However, with large-scale expansions and accelerated installations by Chinese manufacturers, the coming years might spell trouble for US firms, including Micron and GlobalFoundries, due to the price wars triggered by China's expanded production.

Restricting TSMC benefits SMIC, multi-patterning prohibitively costly, said lithography guru

Burn Lin, the former TSMC vice president of R&D who innovated immersion lithography, told IC Broadcasting that he had already foreseen in 2022 that SMIC could achieve 7nm with DUV equipment, just as TSMC did. However, he said that making 5nm chips with DUV equipment involves at least quadruple patterning - a process that is time-consuming and costly as it affects yield rates and speed due to difficulties in self-alignment.

China's aggressive poaching of South Korea's semiconductor talents and resources raises alarm

In recent years, Chinese semiconductor companies have been actively recruiting talent from South Korea and making strategic acquisitions and investments, triggering concerns within the South Korean semiconductor industry. The National Intelligence Service (NIS) of South Korea is proactively collaborating with the industry to safeguard local semiconductor talent and technology.

Recent activities of SMEE and CIOMP show EUV development efforts progressing in China

Shanghai Micro Electronics Equipment (Group) Co., Ltd. (SMEE) has announced plans for an initial public offering (IPO) and is offering a salary per annum (excluding bonuses) of up to CNY480,000 (US$66,000) to attract talent in China. They have a large number of job openings in optical design, optical inspection, optical processing, mechanical design, electrical design, control hardware systems, manufacturing and processing, supplier management, and senior technical engineering roles. Starting salaries are almost all above CNY15,000 to CNY18,000, with key positions such as professional engineers in the optical field commanding monthly salaries of up to CNY40,000.

SMIC profit plunges despite Huawei orders: survival heavily dependent on subsidies and external sources

The category "other income" compensating for SMIC's losses, primarily comprising of "subsidies" and "miscellaneous income" from non-core activities, totaled around CNY 1.316 billion (US$ 185 million) and CNY 4.394 billion, respectively. This sharp contrast with the core profit of CNY 427 million strongly suggests that these external contributions are the factor that prevents SMIC from falling into the red.

Xanadu hardware CTO shares views on why silicon photonics is the future of quantum computing

Xanadu, a quantum computing company founded in 2016 and headquartered in Toronto, Canada, has been building fault-tolerant computers based on silicon photonics chips. Using photons as qubits, Xanadu believes that silicon photonics will be the quickest path to achieve a fault-tolerant quantum computer capable of operating at room temperature. Zachary Vernon, Chief Technology Officer of Xanadu responsible for hardware, talked to DIGITIMES Asia about opportunities brought by photonics to the realm of quantum computing as he visited Taiwan in November to attend the 2023 Asia Pacific Executive Forum hosted by the Global Semiconductor Alliance.

Samsung shifts investment focus to 3-nanometer tech in Taylor TX plant

Industry sources cited by ZDNet Korea reported that Samsung has recently altered the equipment investment direction for its Taylor plant in the United States. Despite having ordered the first batch of equipment for mass production, delays in expanding the production plan have led Samsung to reconsider strategies to enhance the capacity for advanced processes. If internal discussions at Samsung materialize, the first production line at the Taylor plant could potentially pivot toward the 3-nanometer manufacturing process.